Friday, January 23, 2009

School on the Run

Seemed like a simple plan when I made it. Clear the morning calendar. Make a nice space in the dining room for ESL (English as a Second Language) lessons. Every morning, get the other kids on the bus, then sit down with James and Julie and proceed to teach them English. Follow each well-taught lesson with a trip to the barn together for chores, and then a stroll down our country lane, pointing out the English words for familiar items such as fence, tree, goose. Throw a few bluebirds twittering around our heads and you get the picture.
Yeah. Well. That's happened all of like, twice. More commonly, we're picking one of the kids up from school to run them to the doctor or orthodontist, going to the grocery store for the third time in a week, schlepping out to the social security office for more paperwork, or any one of the myriad of things that keep popping up to fill these new gaps in my calendar.
So usually we have school on the run, as we listen to ESL CDs in the car or I point out things while we're driving around, like truck, bus, train, etc. Skojit "hobo". One drawback to this method is that I'm about to lose my friggin' mind. If I have to listen to this Bryan Adams wannabe and his cheesy accompanying musicians sing "What's Your Name" or "Supermarket Sally" one more time I am going to leap out the window and start playing in traffic. But the kids love it. "Mom, Mom, What's Your Name. Please? What's Your Name." OK. One more time ....
Another occupational hazard to being in the position of ESL teacher is that I've come to resemble a silent movie actor in my manner of speech. As I point out a new word to them, I am striving with every nuance of my facial expressions and body language to convey its meaning. Imagine, if you will, my melodrama as I teach by charade the words happy, or angry. While it seems helpful during the lessons, it's gotten to be a hard thing to switch on and off. I might say to someone, "I like your shirt (sweeping my arm up and down across my torso to indicate shirt). It's pretty (with a stupid happy face on). It's red (might gesture to several red things at this point)". They just look at me and I know what they're wondering. Where's her 'special helmet'?

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ault family said...

I'm new to your blog (a Kaz PAP). I love it and am glad you are keeping it public.

You crack me up with your explanation of you being a silent movie actor, trying to go back and forth from ESL to your "natural self". I talk with my hands a lot and so people may not think that would be too odd for me (they probably already think I need a special helmet!:) It is sort of like being a stay at home mom of very young children and then your husband comes home from work and you say something silly like, "No daddy waddy, you cannot have more juicy wuicy." :)

Good luck! And for what it's worth, the kids are learning just as much seeing all the sites and sounds as you taxi the others to and fro.


Becki Stone said...

My brother adopted twins from China two years ago, and there was a family that adopted an older child that traveled with them, and they went to their house for dinner and the entire house was tagged with post-its-one on the door that said "door" one on the lamp that said "lamp..etc..He said it was so cute when the little girl would come in and look at the post-it on the chair, smile and say "chair" -well my brother got home with his girls, and they got ahold of post-its and scribbled on them and hung them everywhere...Your story of education on the run made me think of it! :)
It sounds like they are adjusting well, I'm so happy! :)

Diana and Bob said...


I wanted to tell you that I was able to meet Julia when we were in Kazakhstan on trip 1. The day she was sprung from the "Big O". She is a sweetheart! So glad to hear the kids are doing well!

Lori Printy said...

ahhhh yes, I too am narrating my every move. It's kind of like living with that dead chic from Desparate Housewives.

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